Our Very Own Enemy

10 pounds down, another 60 to go. 

The ironic thing about this year is that I’m doing things different than I did last year…and it’s working.  It can be tiresome to be at a plateau for a year and nothing works. 

Losing weight is never easy.  Everyone has their own issues with ‘how’ they gained weight…and how they’re taking it off. 

For me, I got the Lap-Band…it doesn’t work for me.  Why?  Because I fall into a different category…I’m one of five cases.  The other four had the band removed because it didn’t work for them either.  We fall into the category of people that gain weight as a ‘survival’ method.  We bulk on the layers as a means of protection against anyone that could possibly harm us…again.

It’s a self-defense mechanism.  We don’t eat much, but the body holds onto every single calorie ingested and builds fat around the body to make the wearer…unattractive at all costs. 

It’s not easy to lose that weight because it’s a ‘mental’ issue.  You have to try and switch off that self-defense mechanism. 

The only way I have been able to do that so far this year has been focusing on doing something that makes me happy every single day.

But don’t think that I’m not tackling this feat one step at a time.  I’m tackling it from all points.  From diet & exercise to meditation and just being happy has helped me drop 10+ pounds in a month.  Now, there’s a new element…spa treatments. 

Last night, I headed to Bliss Spa at the W Hotel on East 49th Street in Manhattan.  I signed up for their Carrot Sesame Wrap and their Love Handler (a treatment that uses the famous Bliss products Fat Girl Slim and the Love Handler the way they were meant to be used).

We started off with the Love Handler.  Gotta tell ya…it works.  It rejuvenates the circulation in your mid-section, moves stuff around so that you actually look better!  It stimulates the fat cells in your abdomen (and back) to start burning. 

For me, it didn’t really go into effect until after the Carrot Sesame Wrap.  I could feel it working.

While I was wrapped up in a cocoon with carrot/sesame and milk and honey drizzled all over my body, I had plenty of time to meditate.  What did I discuss this time with the Big Guy?  Well, it’s more a matter of what he said to me…

“You are beautiful.” 

There’s a lesson in those three simple words. 

As I’m lying there, completely naked, knowing what I look like naked…it’s hard to tell yourself that you’re doing something that’s good for you…that you’re doing this because you deserve it…that you’re getting this expensive beauty treatment because you need to embrace your own beauty.

Women know exactly what I’m talking about.  We are our own worst enemy.  We look at all of our flaws and how we need to change [what’s interesting is we do this to men all of the time].  If we don’t like our weight, we lose it.  If we don’t like our hairstyle, we change it.  If we don’t like the way our thighs look, we bust our ass at the gym. 

We never tell ourselves that we are beautiful.  We focus too much on what’s wrong with how we look that we never actually (or honestly) say, “I am beautiful.” 

Why?  Because we don’t believe that we are.  Society says we’re not perfect unless we’re a size negative zero, a glamazon that’s 6 feet tall, and perfect in every single way.  What they don’t tell us is that everyone in those magazines that we’re supposed to look like has been airbrushed.  Every single one of them has been airbrushed…including the Editor-in-Chief’s photo!

When I first came to NYC, I felt very self-conscious (just like most women in their 20s feel when they come to NYC for the first time).  There are models everywhere.  You share the same street corners with them, waiting for the pedestrian light to change.  You are criticized for what you’re wearing outside and around the Hearst offices. 

Running into Anna Wintour and getting the once over…scariest f’ing thing in the world.  You know she’s either thinking that you look gawd awful or she approves (which is more likely to be the former, rather than the latter). 

Then there’s Fashion Week.  There are fashion shoots in the middle of the sidewalk.  Is that a movie their filming?  Or another episode of The Sopranos? 

Looking perfect is in demand in this city.  You get hit with the magazine covers every which way you look.  In the hockey realm, just go to Madison Square Garden.  I run into 3 or 4 models every time I’m there. 

I’ve had the ones that partied with hockey players and because I ‘look’ like I know hockey players somehow…they tend to gravitate towards me like I’m 6 feet tall, and a model that parties with Alexander Ovechkin (ok…2 out of 3 were so wrong).  

Any woman in the presence of a glamazon (or what I sometimes call a ‘superfreak’ because those types of women are not the norm) can’t feel anything but self-conscious because all of us are supposed to look like them. 

If you’re not a model-type, you know exactly how it feels to be compared to them.  Imagine living in NYC and having to share this city with models (within the reach of all straight men), and constantly having to think that in order to be accepted in this town…you have to look like THAT.

If you’ve ever watched Ugly Betty from Episode 1 to the finale, you can see what NYC can do to a girl.  They took an overweight girl with no style and braces, deemed her ‘UGLY’ and turned her into a thinner, more attractive version of herself by the final season.  She changed the way she looked…and somehow was able to fit in, showing that an ugly duckling can turn into a swan.

But what the whole storyline loses sight of in that final season is why Betty changed the way she looked in order to ‘fit in.’  It was the fact that she WAS ‘Ugly Betty’ that made the series a hit.  She defied the odds by showing her inner beauty and sticking to her guns all throughout the HIT years.  The year she changed everything about herself (including losing weight) was also her final season.

The only reason why an Ugly Betty would change the way she looked on the outside is if she was unhappy with how she looked.

Women are told every single day that they have to be beautiful if they want a man, a good paying job (because women with looks make more than those who don’t have looks, and also are selected first in the job market over those without looks), and money…they have to have the right look.

You can see the toll it takes on women needing to be beautiful and to keep up with the glamazons.  It’s actually depressing. 

I know one woman that refuses to date or meet men because she thinks she needs to lose more weight before she dates.  She’ll hit the gym as much as she can, but instead of losing weight, her depression (and wine binges) makes her gain weight.  She gets farther and farther away from being with someone because she’s not happy within her own skin.

I’ve heard those excuses a lot.  I’ve said them to myself too.  It is depressing because you believe you’re not good enough.  What man would want a fat chick? 

That echoes a lot in the minds of women across America.  What man would want me if I am fat?    What’s even worse, is that most men said their #1 fear of meeting a woman they met online is finding out that she’s actually fat.  The #1 fear for women is that the guy is a serial killer.

How is that not even more depressing for women? 

Even that negative zero chick up on the runway thinks she’s fat.  Very few of those supermodels up on the runway or posing for Victoria’s Secret believe they are beautiful.  Very few…because they’re all women.

They see their own flaws.  One has cellulite…another’s lips aren’t big enough…one needs a boob lift…another thinks she’s too fat to fit into the clothes… The cycle goes on and on. 

We are our own worst enemy when we look in the mirror…or put on a pair of clothes…or just lie naked in a room covered in carrot/sesame, milk and honey…knowing there’s someone else in the room watching over you and touching your entire body. 

My spa technician and I were talking about the importance of human touch.  She told me that a lot of her clients are either overstressed, nervous (because they’re naked) or just plain angry.  The vibrations they give off, she can feel when she’s massaging the various products onto their bodies. 

Of course, I had to ask what she got from me.  Ends up she can only feel negative vibrations.  She said she didn’t get anything from me.  No anger…no nervousness…no negative energy. 

I had to think…why am I not nervous about being naked and having a complete stranger touch me all over my body?  It’s like at the hospital when a male nurse came in and said he needed to check my stitches to make sure nothing had opened up, etc.  I just lifted my gown right up and said, “Here.” 

He was a little shocked, because he said that most patients aren’t that free to lift up their gown to a member of the opposite sex like that.  My response, “You’re a nurse, right?  Why would I care about that?”  I’m more concerned that my insides hadn’t exploded out of me (I had a severe bronchial infection thanks to the surgery; each cough felt like my insides were about to burst out of me).

I’m the type of person that doesn’t care to show my nakedness to a doctor or a spa technician.  Why?  Because I don’t pay them to judge me.  Ergo, they don’t. 

It’s the ones that stand around in the ladies’ locker room (the same women that feel as self-conscious as the next woman), or try on clothes in the fitting room…or get naked in front of a man for the first time…those are the ones that make you feel that you are not good enough.

It’s not exactly those people that make you feel it.  It’s what you tell yourself when you are in their presence.

My friend, who is a size 4, refuses to change in the same fitting room as me.  Me…I don’t care…we have to see what the other person is trying on anyway.  She’s so self-conscious about the way she looks naked, that she doesn’t want me to see it. 

Seriously…I look at her and think…hello…you’re a size 4…I have more to be scared about than you do. 

She has judged how she looks and has determined what I would think of her body before she even puts the dress on. 

How many of us do that?  We judge our own bodies before the other person can?  We tell ourselves what the other person is thinking, when it’s not the case at all.

It’s like men…some guys will wear their shirt around and no pants.  Why?  Because they’re self-conscious about how their abs look…or their chests…or maybe their arms…

Frankly, most of the time, no one cares.  The only person that cares about how you look is usually only one person…YOURSELF.

That means that the only person’s opinion that really counts…is your own.

Try saying “You are beautiful” to yourself…and actually believe it.

Lying in that cocoon, I had to say it to myself a lot of times.  The point of saying it was to believe in it.  Also helps when God is saying “You are beautiful, but you don’t believe it…”  It makes you realize just how much we hurt ourselves.

That was yesterday’s lesson.  Believing that I am beautiful no matter what flaws I have…no matter what this journey has been about…I have to believe that I am beautiful if this adventure of “Losing 100 Pounds of Unhappiness” is going to work.

We make ourselves unhappy every single day by saying things to ourselves that we would probably punch a person out if they said it to us.  We assume people would say these horrible things about our bodies, when the person standing next to us in the gym locker room is just as scared as we are that the person next to us is going to notice our flaws.

We live in a society of make believe.  Supermodels, magazine ads and covers…they’re not real.  Everything is airbrushed…a mirage painted onto a photo to make a person believe that it is real.  We are not living airbrushed photos.  Why are we comparing ourselves to a photoshopped image?

Believing that we are beautiful, no matter what flaws we have, is the most important endeavor in change.  If we want to be happy in our own skin, we have to believe we are beautiful.

Ladies know all about this…remember when Loving Yourself 101 meant taking a mirror and looking at your vagina?  Don’t think Bliss Spa doesn’t hand you a mirror to look at yourself.  I’m not joking.

Any woman that walks into a spa and has the Love Handler performed (which, I might add, feels like I did about a million situps yesterday…feeling the burn today), followed by the Carrot Sesame Wrap…you start to appreciate why human touch is so important.  It’s calming and it relaxes you.  It makes you feel safe…but most of all…beautiful.

Repeating to myself that I am beautiful all throughout the Carrot Sesame treatment helped me to realize just how important saying those three words (and believing it) is in changing your life.  It’s the mental aspect.  You can’t be happy with yourself and with life if you are ridiculing yourself.  No one is ever going to be perfect.  You have to love what you’ve got.  You have to accept that this is the body you are in.  You have to believe that no matter what the end result is…you are beautiful.

Sure, there are things we’d like to change about it…but everybody thinks that.  You can either do it positively, or negatively.  You can either encourage yourself by thinking positive, or depress yourself by thinking negatively.

Sure, we all have that amazing body image of ourselves in our mind, but those images are just as fake as an airbrushed photo.  We have to work towards being healthy, being fit, and being happy with the skin we are in.  We all have our flaws and scars that will never go away.  My scars remind me of the surgeries I’ve had…the cancer I’ve faced…and the time I had malaria in Thailand.  My flaws remind me of my parents…and how I look like them more and more as I get older.  It connects me to them.

There are things that we cannot change.  But the things that we can change, with time, energy and continuous effort, we can re-shape our lives into something else.

About Michelle Kenneth

Michelle Kenneth is the voice behind PerfectionistWannabe.com.